There’s a fair degree of indecision regarding the prevalence of autism in men. It’s true that more men are diagnosed with the developmental disorder far more than women, but nothing can be said of the implications of this without cogitation-even then the basis for the answers are correlative. Some believe that the symptoms manifest themselves differently in young girls, while others maintain that the prevalence owes itself to fundamental hormonal differences. The jury’s still out on the first, but the second can safely be dismissed.
The largest and latest study on the wrangle states that there is zero evidence to suggest testosterone reduces cognitive empathy.
The hypermasculine theory
Cognitive empathy or perspective-taking describes one’s ability to correctly recognize and identify another person’s emotional state. One of the earliest predictors of autism is a characteristic lack of social intuition. As far as purported causes? Researchers have recently identified 69 genes associated with the risk of developing the disorder, but up until recently the bulk of new editions have hovered above the “overly masculine brain hypothesis.”
The controversial theory was originated back in the mid-’90s, After a series of social intelligence and directions/pattern test, a researcher by the name of Simon Baron-Cohen, formulated a theory that posits that people with autism observe the world through an “extreme male lens.” Others have lengthened this theorem by applying hormonal targets. It was believed that exposure to an excess of testosterone in the womb fostered a hypermasculine perspective, one that often gets diagnosed as autism-marked by a keen interest in patterns and mechanical systems and an antipathy toward empathic functions.
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, repudiates literature that proceeds it. “Several earlier studies have suggested a connection between testosterone and reduced cognitive empathy, but samples were very small, and it’s very difficult to determine a direct link,” explains Amos Nadler of Western University, the first author of the study to MedXpress. “Our results unequivocally show that there is not a linear causal relation between testosterone exposure and cognitive empathy.”
The main point of contention was ignited by the lack of causal factors that sketched the extreme masculine brain theory. Researchers of the past studied behavioral inclinations, which are correlative, as opposed to actual physiological ones. Moreover, the vast majority of follow up studies could not successfully replicate the conclusions of the first one.
Nadler employed a group of volunteers to take the RMET-which is a test designed to gauge emotional intelligence. Over the course of two experiments, some participants were administered a testosterone booster while others were given a placebo gel-there was no discernible disparity in performance between the placebo and testosterone enhanced group. Nader concludes, “Even when we tried to be very forgiving about it, there was nothing there. Like, no effect. What we’re saying is that giving people testosterone as adults has no influence on their ability to understand people’s emotions.”